This advanced course will demonstrate how to guide your best students to achieve Grades A/A* in Dance. The course will demonstrate teaching and learning ideas for both practical and theoretical components which will stretch and challenge able students and develop their higher level skills.

Using feedback from the 2018 and 2019 examinations, the course will outline what is expected of top students, both practically and theoretically, and explore ways to builds your teaching practice around this to enable you to meet the needs of your most able students and ultimately increase A and A* grade attainment.

Two of the sessions, indicated below, are Practical sessions, if the course is running as a venue – based course. If Online, these will give the same advice, guidance, programme, key points, but without the actual practical element.


  • Increase awareness of what teachers should aim to achieve with the most able Dance students
  • Gain the latest practical teaching approaches and activities that challenge A/A* students
  • Find out more about the different approaches to support students to gain an A*-B success; both in timetabled lessons and beyond set timetable hours
  • Work with examiners from both components to learn about how to maximise student success in every assessment
  • Explore challenges in supporting your high ability students in the current landscape
COURSE DATES Online | Tuesday 23 March 2021
Online | Thursday 24 June 2021
  • Heads of Performing Arts
  • Heads of Dance
  • Teachers of AQA A-level Dance
  • NQTs would also benefit from this course
IN-SCHOOL You can also book this as an In-School Course
  • A specially prepared folder of detailed notes, practical advice and guidance
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance


10.00 – 10.15am: What does A-A* constitute in Dance, and the challenges in achieving this

  • A-A* in component 1 vs component 2
  • Strategies to maximise students strengths whilst being aware of, and building on, their weaker component
  • The importance of building on their weaker component to ensure A-A* success, and strategies to achieve this
  • Motivation and resilience in context of disruption due to Coronavirus

10.15 – 11:15am: How are grades A/A* Achieved in the Solo and Quartet? (Practical Session)

  • Feedback: looking back at recent exams: what went well? What did examiners look for at the top levels?
  • Missing out on the A/A* grades: Common mistakes and key issues
  • Approaches with live marking and peer feedback to stretch able students
  • Implementing shorter deadlines to achieve long term success with A/A* students
  • Balancing performance in a quartet and Performance in the style of chosen practitioner with able students
  • Exemplar solo and quartet work, with a focus on understanding the grading in relation to the highest marking criteria

11:15 – 11.30am: Break

11:30am – 12.30pm: Developing A/A* Success in Group Choreography (Practical Session)

  • Group Choreography paper: varying approaches and exploring music choices with able students
  • Strategies to develop A/A* skillsets in your students, including independent learning and self-motivation
  • Utilising strengths within the practical questions; including consideration of how to pick the right question, selection of dancers and choreographic approaches
  • Teaching ideas using examples from past papers which work with A/A* students – from research, workshops, initial idea development, refinement and rehearsal
  • Sharing of practice: discussion of current structures with A/A* students i.e. grouping and rehearsal strategies, the value of a reflective log and processes of assessment and feedback to invoke improvement
  • Utilising practical lessons post-exam to further understand the theoretical components

12.30 – 1.00pm: Student and staff support strategies to maximise A*-A rates

  • Dealing with linearity; collaborative teaching strategies, creating appropriate assessment strategies and ideas for revision
  • Successful intervention and support strategies, including how to build an extra-curricular provision to boost your cohorts A*-A rate
  • Resources to help both teacher planning and student independent study
  • Challenges of both small and large cohort sizes
  • Maintaining recruitment on a-level Dance

1.00 – 2.00pm: Lunch 

2:00 – 3:00pm: Understanding Exam Technique and Marking in Component 2

  • Understanding AQA exam board assessment objectives and weightings across component 2, and what constitutes A-A* grading criteria
  • Overview of different types of smaller mark questions, including how to approach different command words, length of student responses and common student pitfalls to ensure full marks can be achieved
  • Progressive teaching practice methods to teach the 25mark essay response
  • Understanding mark schemes and how to accurately assess student responses
  • Example responses and marking tasks with feedback

3:00 – 3:15: afternoon break

3:15 – 3:45pm:   Picking the right optional elements to facilitate A-A* grading in Component 2

  • Basic concepts of building a 2-year scheme of work to ensure maximum success of student outcomes, and building skills and concepts in a logical and linear manner
  • Concepts on how to choose the optional named practitioners and optional works that you cover to maximise student success in Section A of the paper
  • What is the right area of study choice for Section B? How to pick wisely
  • Exploring how Component 1 and Component 2 (section A and B) optional choices can complement success in both units
  • Using examiner reports and e-AQA data to understand nationally recognised strengths and weaknesses of current teaching with regard to A/A* students and plan for change

3.45 / 4.00pm: Networking, Questions and Depart

Toni Knight

Toni Knight is an experienced A level Dance examiner and teacher. She and Laura Bulless, also an experienced A level Dance examiner and teacher both teach at a highly successful 6th Form College, covering A-level Dance and BTEC Dance, and their department gained ‘National Teaching Team of the Year’ in Oct. 2019 at the Pearson National Teaching Awards hosted on the BBC. The Dance Department is one of the largest in the country, with a 100% A* – B rate